Islanders pay respects at Veterans Cemetery

HANAPEPE — A steady stream of cars flowed in and out of the parking lot at the Hanapepe Veterans Cemetery Saturday.

Visitors unloaded bundles of flowers and buckets as they made their way to graves to pay respect and spruce up the headstones in preparation for the annual Memorial Day services at 10 a.m. today.

“It’s my father’s 10th anniversary, so I had to come,” said Kilauea resident Jennifer Relacion after placing a floral offering at her father’s grave. “But we’ll be back on Monday for the service.”

The service is hosted by the Kaua‘i Council Navy League of the United States and the Kaua‘i Veterans Council.

“We didn’t come early because we thought the Boy Scouts would be here,” Jolynne Uyesono said.

Donovan Travaso, one of the caretakers for the cemetery, said the Boy Scouts came early Saturday for their annual community service project of power washing the gravestones.

The Scouts, including members of Troop 148, will return this morning to help place small American flags and lei at each of the graves prior to the start of the service.

In the interim, the Troop 148 Scouts will do other activities as they spend the weekend camping at the nearby Salt Pond Park.

“It catches your eye as you pass,” one of the visitors said of the ceramic mural created and donated by Joanna Carolin and the staff of Banana Patch in Hanapepe.

The inspiration for the Kaua‘i Veterans Memorial was based on a ceremony conducted by Gov. Linda Lingle to honor the 27 Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman of the 3rd Marine Regiment who lost their lives in a helicopter accident in Iraq.

Beyond the remembrance of those soldiers, the mural is dedicated to the men and women of the Armed Forces who “made the supreme sacrifice in all of our nation’s wars so America’s citizens may continue to enjoy freedom and liberty in peace in a free society,” read a portion of the program.

The mural, which was just finished Friday, will be dedicated as part of today’s services, Travaso said.

The Memorial Day weekend had a lot in store for Travaso, who continued her normal funeral preparation duties while helping visitors find graves.

Karla Matsushima, the sales manager at Kuhio Motors, took advantage of a chemical spill that evacuated and closed down her workplace to join other family members in their outing to the veterans cemetery.

“From here, we’re going shopping at Ishihara Market,” she said. “Cannot go to work, so might as well make the most of it.”

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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